Click for Coverage
Due to the EU’s Global Data Protection Regulation, our website is currently unavailable to visitors from most European countries. We apologize for this inconvenience and encourage you to visit for the latest on new cars, car reviews and news, concept cars and auto show coverage, awards and much more.MOTORTREND.COM
  • JP Magazine
  • Dirt Sports + Off-Road
  • 4-Wheel & Off-Road
  • Four Wheeler

August 2008 Letters To The Editor

Posted in Project Vehicles on August 1, 2008
Share this

Where To Write
Address your correspondence to:
Four Wheeler
6420 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048.

All letters become the property of Four Wheeler, and we reserve the right to edit them for length, accuracy, and clarity. The editorial department also can be reached through the Web site at Due to the volume of mail, electronic and otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.

Northern Nevada: How Warm In Winter?
Reader: In your May '08 issue there was an article about four-wheeling in the Black Rock Desert of northwestern Nevada. Although I don't live in Nevada any longer, I was born and raised in Carson City, not far from the northwestern corner of the State, and I explored the state extensively in my youth.

An informational box near the end of the article caught my attention, specifically about the weather in the Black Rock Desert. The informational box stated that winter temperatures in the Black Rock Desert could be in the 70s. My experience in the area differs. Northwestern Nevada tends to be cold and snowy in the winter to the point that it's dangerous.

I checked for Gerlach, Nevada, a northwestern Nevada town, to see what information was given on average highs and record highs for that town in the winter. The average high temperature in Gerlach for the months of December, January and February is in the 40s; the record highs are in the 60s. Additionally, the record low for Gerlach for those three months is -30 degrees. Tourists equipped for winter temperatures in the 70s would be uncomfortable, to say the least.
Scott Hesse
Casper, WY

Why Full-Time 4WD On Luxo-Rigs?
Reader: Why do all luxury SUVs have to give up mpg to have full-time four-wheel drive? In today's computer-controlled world, I don't see how it is better. Wouldn't a selectable transfer case be better for mpg and CAFE ratings?

My wife just bought an '08 Cadillac Escalade, which on the highway gets 18 mpg at 70 mph. Wouldn't it get 20-plus without the outdated full-time four-wheel drive? The manufacturers can't use the durability excuse, because my '06 F-350 dualie with full Banks Power and Snow Performance water/methanol, is part-time. Do the luxury brands think their buyers are too stupid to work a stick or turn a switch? Please pass along to the manufacturers.
Greg Mills,
Irondale, MO

Editor: You are correct that part-time four-wheel drive = more efficient torque transfer, and less driveline drag on pavement, than full-time four-wheel drive, which = better mileage, probably 1 to 2 mpg. Add a manual transmission, and you probably get another 1 mpg on top of that.

Why do the manufacturers do what they do? As a rule, it's a combination of market economics and consumer preference. A lot of market research-millions of dollars' worth, in fact-goes into the research and development of every new vehicle a manufacturer produces. And it's a fair guess to conclude that the overwhelming majority of prospective owners of these vehicles-at least, those segments of the consumer market that the manufacturers want to target with them-most likely wants the tractive benefits of four-wheel drive but doesn't particularly need or want a low-range gear. The same principle, we imagine, goes for stick trannies. Which makes sense to us. I mean, if you're gonna drop 70 grand on a Land Cruiser or a Range Rover Sport, are you likely the kind of person who wants to clutch in to row through a bunch of gears? Also, the latest generation of electronic six-speeds on the newest SUVs almost all have a lock-out gear detent that allows you to hold any individual gear for virtually as long as you want it. And only offering a single transmission on a new vehicle also helps keep overhead costs down for the manufacturer.

Wants Correct Specs For Featured Power Wagon
I am a bit tardy in getting this in, and you may well have several replies to information found in your April issue featuring the '54 Dodge Power Wagon. There are a few mistakes in the article that need correcting.

While all cargo boxes made for this family of Power Wagons are interchangeable, not all are correct. The bed on this truck came from a '46-'50 model, as evidenced by the smooth sides and four square pockets. The correct bed had three "free-form" pockets.

While the axles are stock, they are not Danas. These are corporate DCPD axles, whose gear ratio depends upon how the truck was equipped from the factory. If the truck came with 7.50-16 wheels, the ratio would be 4.89:1. More likely, the truck came with 9.00-16 wheels, making the ratio 5.83:1, as stated in the text of the piece. There is no way the ratio could be 3.90:1, as stated in your specifications box.
D.A. Brownlow
Cheyenne, WY

Editor: You're right, we did receive several other letters on the subject, and thanks to all who wrote in to correct us. When we compile specs for our monthly feature trucks, we have to rely on the vehicle's owner for a lot of that specific vehicle's technical information, and sometimes, erroneous information gets passed on to us in the process. But thanks for keeping us on our toes.

A Ford Aerostar At Top Truck Challenge?!?
Reader: How did that lifted minivan even get justified as a valid competitor in Top Truck Challenge (April '08)? That is a slot that an actual challenger could have taken. What a waste.
The Goat
Somewhere in AK

Editor: When we sort through the list of TTC entrants each year, we try to compile an assortment of rigs that's representative of what we received and what's out there across the country: Rock rigs, mud boggers, tube buggies, daily drivers, low-buck trucks, high-dollar specials, and yes, a Jamboree show truck or two. Top Truck Challenge has always had a diversity of vehicles in its field nearly every year, and this year will be no exception-as it turned out, hundreds of our readers appreciated this truck enough to vote it into the Top 10, so you'll see more of it in the November and December '08 issues. (Don't you just love us now?)

To us, it's like this: If the owner of that Aerostar is willing to trailer a rig like that all the way to TTC, and quite possibly destroy it, for the sheer enjoyment of our readers, all we can say is, more power to him.

Pickup Of The Year: You Guys Are Lame
I am disappointed in your latest Pickup Truck of the Year test (March '08). I think you did a very poor job comparing the trucks. I would think that if someone really wanted to do a good comparison, try using all the 1/2-ton trucks on the market. Chevy, GMC, Nissan, and Mazda all got excluded from the test. If you are going to compare something, why not compare apples to apples instead of apples to oranges? The Dodge Dakota is all by itself in the test, as is the Toyota Tundra. Then you have the Dodge 2500 diesel and the Ford F-250 diesel, which isn't even a fair test because you never used a Ford with a Crew Cab, and why not option the Dodge with off-road tires and a limited-slip differential or the Off-Road package like the Ford.

If you are going to compare pickups, compare all the 1/2-tons, or all the 3/4-ton diesels or gas, and don't leave the Dakota to compete all by itself against four larger, more powerful trucks. Last but not least, do a price comparison, because if I had all the money in the world I would not buy an F-250 extended-cab shortbox.

Ultimately, if I was Editor, I would be embarrassed to publish such an article.
Chris M.
Grove City, PA

P.S. How much did Ford pay to win the "test"?

Editor: Maybe we missed something, but when did Mazda start building a 1/2-ton pickup truck?

As we've stated before, Pickup Truck of the Year is-and always has been-limited to vehicles that are either all-new or substantially revised for the upcoming model year. The purpose of the test is to showcase the latest in new-vehicle engineering and design, and to pick one model which we think represents the best new example of four-wheel-drive pickup-truck technology for the coming year. It is not, and never has been, a direct comparison test between all vehicles in any single class.

On a related note, we do have plans in the works for a 3/4-ton gas-engine direct-comparison test. Keep an eye on these pages in the next couple of months.

As far as options are concerned, we do ask each manufacturer to equip their test rigs with all available off-road package options if applicable, including lockers, skidplates, all-terrain tires, and so forth. But in the end, we test whatever the manufacturers choose to deliver to us.

And no, we have never demanded or accepted payments of any type for this test-and for what it's worth, we can't recall any OE manufacturer ever attempting to bribe us with one, either.

Needs Old Harvester 1-Ton Info
Reader: I have a '60 International 1-ton trck that I'm looking to restore to its original glory. It has an inline flathead six under the hood, with 19-inch wheels, a five-speed manual tranny, and a 12,000-pound winch. It needs some work on rust on the box and bottom of the cab. I have looked at Web sites for information and have found nothing but dealers wanting to sell trucks. Do you know of any sites I can look at for parts and information on the truck?
Sterling Rachwal
Fond du Lac, WI

Editor: Sure. The Binder Bulletin ( is a huge repository of information for All Things International, and we'd guess that's a good place for you to start.

Another "Stupid 'Wheeler" TV Ad?
Reader: I am concerned over a TV commercial I have seen over the last several months. It is for a certain type of "six-pack" battery that comes with different-color tops. It portrays a man going to a car dealer and purchasing a 4x4 with oversize tires, then going to his local auto parts store to buy said battery. Of course, on the way he drives over a curb/median, crushing flowers and grass growing there.

To me it seems that if this advertiser were targeting the off-road enthusiast with these ads, they would know better than to show a vehicle displaying this type of disregard.

I have been wheeling for as long as I have been driving (24 years), and I know the issues we face every day, especially here on the East Coast, and that type of thing only negatively affects our sport. Thanks for your time and a great mag.
Doug Frey
Harrisburg, PA

Editor: And thanks for writing in. We haven't seen the commercial in question, but you're right, advertising such as this only serves to reinforce negative and undeserved stereotypes of wheelers in the public eye. Perhaps a few letters to the manufacturer in question would alert their bosses (or their ad agency) to the problem?

Lifting Your Truck? Adjust Your Headlights
Reader: As a professional truck driver who drives all night, please ask your readers who lift their trucks or load it up to adjust their headlights. You wouldn't believe how many times a night we're blinded by morons with four to eight lights going on in front. And I'd like to punch the guy who invented those bright-ass HID and blue lights. Those should be illegal. If you can't see with your regular headlights on, you shouldn't be driving!

One more thing: in California, if you pull a trailer you have to stay in the right two lanes. I see a lot guys pulling MX'ers, U-Hauls, or Jets Skis at 70 mph in the fast lane. Big ticket!
Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Editor: Just about every state has a headlight height law of some sort, as well as restrictions on beam color and/or beam type (LED, HID, et al). We'd strongly advise anyone who intends to lift his 4x4 to make sure he's adhering to all relevant headlight laws-and if you're running aftermarket lights, make sure they're DOT-approved for on-road use. Thanks for the reminder about trailers too.

How To Get My Truck In Four Wheeler
Reader: I was wondering what it took to get into your magazine. I have an '83 Chevy with linked suspension front and rear, 400ci small-block, Turbo 400 tranny, an Ox Locker in the front and a posi in the rear, full cage, 5.13:1s, disc brakes all the way around, and 40-inch Boggers. All the work was done by me. I am only 23 and built this truck on a $15-an-hour budget. It's a real eye-turner.
Roger Swezey
Marysville, WA

Editor: Sounds sweet to us. You can send photos of your truck to Four Wheeler, 6420 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048. Or, sign up at and you can send high-resolution Jpegs to your own "Readers' Rides" page at

Connect With Us

Newsletter Sign Up

Subscribe to the Magazine

Browse Articles By Vehicle

See Results